Afghanistan’s special forces have killed a high-ranking official with the local so-called Islamic State (IS) group affiliate in an operation in the east of the country, according to Afghanistan's intelligence service.
A statement from the National Directorate of Security said the militant was Assadullah Orakzai, an intelligence leader for the IS affiliate in Afghanistan.
The statement said he was killed near Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province - where the Islamic State has its headquarters.
Orakzai was suspected of being involved in several deadly attacks against military and civilian targets in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has seen a recent spike in violence, with most attacks claimed by the local IS affiliate, although a recent report by the United Nations said the country saw a 13% drop in the number of civilians killed and wounded in violence in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period last year.
The report credited the drop in part to the reduction of operations by international forces, which now only act when called on and in support of Afghan forces, and also to a decrease in the number of attacks by IS.
The report said the UN had recorded 17 attacks by the Islamic State that caused civilian casualties during the first six months of 2020, down from 97 in the same period last year.
Another UN report published in July estimated there were around 2,200 IS members in Afghanistan, and said that while its leadership has been depleted, IS still counts among its leaders a Syrian national, Abu Said Mohammad al-Khorasani.
The report also said the monitoring team had received information that two senior IS commanders, Abu Qutaibah and Abu Hajar al-Iraqi, had recently arrived in Afghanistan from the Middle East.
It said: "Although in territorial retreat, (IS) remains capable of carrying out high-profile attacks in various parts of the country, including Kabul.
"It also aims to attract Taliban fighters who oppose the agreement with the United States," the report added, referring to a US peace deal signed with the Taliban in February.
That deal was struck to allow the US to end its 19-year involvement in Afghanistan, and calls on the Taliban to guarantee its territory will not be used by terrorist groups.
It is also expected to guarantee the Taliban’s all-out participation in the fight against IS.
Cover image: Afghanistan landscape (Picture: US Army).